Gone With the Wind (1939)

Let’s face it.  We live in an era where the mainstream is something to be feared, and to like the blockbuster is to admit to being the very same “non-person” we all fear becoming.  It’s important to look smart and cultured, and so we can’t admit to anything that makes us look too sheltered or nationalistic.  We embrace uniqueness or obscurity because it makes us feel like modern day Columbuses…no, strike that.  Columbus is too politically incorrect.  Continue reading

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the subsequent entry into World War II by the United States of America, James Maitland Stewart joined the US Air Corps.  Before the war, Stewart was a talented pilot in the private sector, amassing hundreds of hours of flight time and even participating in a cross-country race as a co-pilot.  He had invested (and recruited more investments) in a pilot-training program hosted by Southwest Airways.  He was an immensely popular actor on the home-front, starring in such films as The Philadelphia Story with Katharine Hepburn and You Can’t Take it With You with Jean Arthur.  He was well-publicized, well-known, and was an interesting character, who loved flying, loved his country, and respected his family’s military tradition. Continue reading

The Samurai Trilogy (1954-1956)

In an unprecedented move, I am going to review three films at once.  So, while I will technically only write four reviews on samurai film to accompany my recent essay on that genre, I will actually be reviewing six movies.  The three movies that I will be reviewing today make up the masterful trilogy from director Hiroshi Inagaki and actor Toshiro Mifune called, simply, The Samurai Trilogy.  This trilogy is made up of three films, Musashi Miyamoto (1954), The Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955), and The Duel at Ganryu Island (1956).  The release of these films marks an important moment in the development of the samurai film and its role as not only the predominant genre of Japan, but as Japan’s most exported film-type in world cinema. Continue reading

Stagecoach (1939)

One of the most oft-mentioned films on my blog has been Stagecoach.  As long as I’m talking Westerns of the 1930s and ’40s, and as long as I’m talking about John Ford, I figure that it is time for Stagecoach to get a review of its own. Continue reading

The 22 Most Important Films of All Time

While historical significance certainly plays its role in helping me determine my favorite films (see my “Greatest Films of All Time” list), other factors played equally poignant parts: my own personal bias, the impact of the film upon viewers, film quality and popularity, to name a few.  But, insofar as this blog is designed to help the casual movie-goer become a competent one, I must help by making more specialized lists.  This particular list looks at historical and cinematographic significance as a complex dual-characteristic: namely, “importance.”  Often, lists of this type go by the name of “influential.”  But “influential” means important only in the context of history and fad.  “Important,” on the other hand, involves the goal of this blog.  These films are “important” in that they help create a backdrop wherein one can contextually understand the development of film and the proper languages of film—as André Bazin would put it—which open your eyes to the world of cinema.  I wish I had paid better attention to lists like this one in my early days of movie-going.  I believe that it would have helped a lot.

The following movies were “influential” to other movies that followed.  They are “important” to you and to me, the viewers, in our attempt to become more competent movie-watchers. Continue reading